When a bus and another public transport vehicle met with a head-on collision on the Dhaka-Tangail highway at Gazipur on Saturday morning, the incident resulted in the death of six and injury of nine. The very next day, and in Gazipur again, a pick-up van overturned and four were killed and 14 injured. It is indeed bad news for 10 people to die and 23 to be injured in mishaps in the same area in just a matter of two days. Yet these two news items were hardly given much importance in the national media.
Death in road ‘accidents’ has become so common that this hardly has any news value anymore. But the fact is that human life is so valuable that its importance can never be diminished under any circumstances. The rate of road accidents is on a steady increase, but the authorities are hardly taking any tangible measures to address the issue. It is as if there is no solution to these mishaps that leave people dead or maimed for life.
According to the World Bank, on average 21,000-22,000 people die per year in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government statistics maintain that every year 2500 to 3000 people die of road accidents in the country.
However, BUET’s accident research institute reports said that 12,000 to 13,000 people die in road accidents every year in Bangladesh. The government has a tendency to lessen such numbers, and especially so in the case of road accidents. This is not something to be trivialized.
Of the people who die in road accidents in Bangladesh every year, 80 per cent are between the ages of 5 to 45. Most of them have an income, many the sole breadwinners of their families. And many of those injured can no longer work. According to the World Bank, the losses caused by road accidents in Bangladesh amount to 1.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
It will not do to sidestep this problem as something that cannot be solved. Experts continually speak about the causes of road accidents and what steps can be taken to reduce the incidence of these accidents. What is required is sincere and effective action by Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the communications ministry and the traffic police authorities.